Hocking is key man as Bridgend defy fatigue

Bridgend Blue Bulls 33 Carlisle Centurions 26
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The Independent Online

Kevin Ellis and Allan Bateman made a triumphant return to Warrington as they guided Bridgend to victory in the TotalRL.com Cup final.

Ellis and Bateman, along with another former international in John Devereux, provided the star quality, but the Welsh battled against fatigue to edge a thrilling match.

"They showed a lot of character after 10 of the starting line-up played rugby union yesterday," Ellis said. "There were a lot of sore bodies out there, but the boys put them on the line."

The early stages belonged to Bridgend and their goal-kicking winger, John Williams. Apart from two penalties and a conversion, he also scored the game's first try, reacting first when Ellis's kick bounced towards the corner.

Carlisle turned it on when Dale Semple took Mike Marsden's pass and glided through to set up Paul McGee for a try, converted by Dean Haney.

When Craig Stalker cut through for Carlisle's second try, they were level, but the Welshman appeared to take control again with tries on either side of half-time.

Ellis and Bateman threw the long passes to release Mike Davies, and an excellent pass from Karl Hocking created another for Dan Shore.

But then the Carlisle player-coach, Gary Murdock, featured strongly and the Cumbrians scored three tries in 10 minutes from Richard Campbell, the outstanding McGee and Chris Sawyers.

Bridgend's man of the match, Hocking, then proved the key man, scoring from Nathan Strong's pass and then setting up a second for Davies, with an Ellis drop goal and two more goals from Williams seeing them home. "They had too many quality players for us,'' Murdock admitted.

BRIDGEND: M Davies; J Williams, Devereux, Lewis, Woodard; Bateman, Ellis; Strong, D Williams, Hocking, Morgan, Wheeler, Sainsbury. Subs: Fox, Bartlett, G Davies, Shore.

CARLISLE: C Stalker; A Sawyers, Watson, M Stalker, Haney; Semple, Marsden; Nicholson, Brough, McGee, Campbell, Massey, Robinson. Subs: Mackay, Stewart, C Sawyers, Murdock.

Referee: G Illidge, Warrington.